In the American Sign Language club, junior Levi Bloxum focuses on a specific topic each week for their club meetings. “We normally focus on a specific kind of word… We will do food one week, family another week,” Bloxom said (Liva Redhead)
In the American Sign Language club, junior Levi Bloxum focuses on a specific topic each week for their club meetings. “We normally focus on a specific kind of word… We will do food one week, family another week,” Bloxom said

Liva Redhead

Club bolsters communication for the deaf

March 6, 2023

Growing up, junior Levi Bloxom never understood why people struggled to communicate with his mom. He watched her struggle with communicating with others due to what he referred to as her “deaf accent”. 

“There’s a lot of things that people don’t understand about the deaf world,” Levi said. 

“My mom’s deaf, so growing up, we communicated a little bit [in ASL]… She speaks but gradually, with her other deaf friends, I picked up a little bit of the language,” Levi said. 

Recently, he and his sister, who is also hard of hearing, founded Wando’s ASL club. They meet every Wednesday at 7:45 a.m. and have no requirements for members to join. 

“I would consider my mother to be one of the motivating factors behind the development of this club,” Levi’s sister, sophomore Elena Bloxom, said. 

Elena also struggles with her hearing similar to her mom. She has hearing aids in order to improve her hearing; however, there are still difficulties that she faces.

“It makes certain things a bit more difficult, but I am grateful to have a team of people who support me and have my back when my accommodations are not met,” Elena said.

As far as the club goes itself, it has gained popularity across the student body. 

“If we can get a bunch of people coming to the ASL club then we could start a class,” Levi said.

Levi says that this advancement is thanks to the new principal, Kim Wilson.

“It’s grown in interest and enthusiasm and everybody in there is having a good time,” Wilson said. 

Wilson has already looked into and added ASL as a course to be offered in next year’s curriculum. It will be a dual enrollment course through Trident Technical College and he is currently looking into having ASl 1,2, and 3 for the coming years. If ASL was added to the curriculum as a class, it would be counted as a foreign language credit for students. 

Many colleges across the country do accept ASL as a language credit which would make this a potentially beneficial option for Wando students as long as they have a good idea of what they need to attend their college of choice in terms of foreign language credits. 

“It’s a great alternative for students who struggle with a foreign language,” Wilson said.

The club originally started with about 10 people and meetings were held in Wilson’s office. However, by the second meeting they had about doubled in size and needed to move to a classroom.

Levi and Elena are excited about the opportunities that will come with adding ASL courses to the school curriculum. 

“If we could bring that [ASL class] to Wando that would be an amazing thing for high schoolers to learn about,” Levi said. 

Cane Bay High School in Summerville has an ASL program available to their students. Levi says that some of the Cane Bay graduates who were involved in this program were able to interact with his mom using the language in a variety of places. 

“When they sign a little bit with my mom, it just makes her day,” Levi said. 

Levi’s mom, Nicole Bloxum, was born deaf and dealt with a variety of struggles due to her hearing disability. 

“She’s had to overcome a lot of obstacles and she’s just done a great job overcoming all of them,” Levi said. 

Levi hopes that sharing ASL with others will provide more support for his mom and others like her. 

“Learning at least the basic communication in ASL is a valuable tool for those that may be interacting with the general public in their careers,” Nicole said. 

People with careers that involve speaking to people across backgrounds must make an effort to be as inclusive and helpful as possible.

Approximately 48 million people are considered deaf or hard of hearing in the U.S. alone. Yet, fewer than 1 percent of people are fluent in ASL in the US. This poses communication barriers between those with typical hearing and those with hearing disabilities. 

“People often misunderstand not hearing something with not being smart,” Nicole said. 

However, with the use of ASL, the Bloxoms are hopeful improvement for those in the deaf community will come about gradually.

“I hope it helps others to learn a little sign language and become aware of the deaf community,” Nicole said. 

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